Planners seek more detail on Dublin Airport passenger cap

Council sought extra information from airport manager DAA days ago

Planners are seeking more information from Dublin Airport on its call to increase the yearly limit on passengers to 40 million from 32 million currently.

Ireland’s biggest airport has not been allowed to handle more than 32 million passengers annually since opening its new north runway in 2022, a planning condition that has angered airlines Aer Lingus and Ryanair.

Fingal County Council planners are seeking more information from airport operator DAA on its application to raise the cap to 40 million from 32 million, submitted late last year.

They want DAA to outline at what times the airport is busy now and when it reaches 40 million a year.


“The busy-hour passenger volumes should be split by terminal, and should be further split by arrivals, departures, transfer and combined,” say planners.

“Furthermore, peak-hour volumes should be defined for departing, arriving and total aircraft movements,” they add.

DAA sought permission to increase the cap in December as part of an overall application to expand facilities, including airport stands and gates, to cope with expected growth in passenger traffic that could hit 40 million by the end of this decade.

Fingal County Council’s 69-page response, published on Monday, seeks clarification on a series of key points in the initial application.

“For the purposes of clarity and assessment, the applicant is requested to submit a demonstration of how particularly segments of traffic are likely to grow and how this may create a need for the proposed developments in the initial application,” planners say.

“For example, the initial application includes an expansion of the US pre-clearance facility, but there is no analysis that sets out how the forecast volumes of US-bound traffic are set to increase in the future,”

Planners argue that, consequently, the application fails to justify the need to expand the pre-clearance facility.

Elsewhere, they question whether DAA is optimistic about the number of aircraft with lower emissions and which make less noise that will be using the airport in the future.

Planners ask the company to confirm historical trends, current use and realistic forecasts for its projected use of these aircraft in fleets based in Dublin Airport.

Aer Lingus and Ryanair are the biggest carriers with bases at the airport. Both are adding new aircraft to their fleets which each company says are less noisy and emit lower amounts of greenhouse gas.

Noise is a key issue for people living close to the airport in north Co Dublin. Fingal County Council is the statutory noise regulator.

A row over the passenger cap has been running for weeks, with both Aer Lingus and Ryanair, jointly responsible for more two in every three travellers through Dublin Airport, saying it will hit growth and damage tourism.

Ryanair last week said that it had switched aircraft originally intended for its Dublin base to southern Italy, with the loss of a potential 200 jobs.

Lynne Embleton, Aer Lingus chief executive, last year argued that the Republic was shooting itself in the foot by allowing the cap to persist.

Minister for Transport and the Environment Eamon Ryan has answered calls to legislate to lift the cap by saying neither he nor the Government can intervene in the planning process.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas